Everybody does Agile now, don't they? Maybe not everyone, but doing Agile is most definitely a thing these days. Everywhere you look there are Scrum teams, product owners, user researchers, coaches, test-driven developers, automation experts.
But are all organisations getting value out of their investment in Agile?
It's great the industry has moved on, the battle to do Agile has mostly been won. That said, there are still the doubters out there who are not quite convinced, and I would say with good reason.
I find a lot of Agile delivery is only skin deep. Attempts to speed up delivery by going Agile may succeed for a while, but that is missing the point somewhat. Agile is not about speed, it is about being responsive.
When Agile is fully embedded in an organisation, more than skin deep, the organisation becomes truly responsive. It is by being responsive that the organisation gains the real benefits of Agile. When Agile teams think in this manner, they identify opportunities to deliver better and more appropriate product to the market, generating true value.
To me it's all about a mindset, it's about ‘being’ Agile, not ‘doing’ Agile. It's about responding to the need, not delivering to the spec.
So, how can you tell whether an organisation is being Agile rather than just going through the motions of doing Agile? Here are some of the things I look for:
- Is there a product vision, and is it being visualised?
- Do teams understand and regularly assess user needs?
- Is there an understanding of value in the features being delivered?
- Is there an incremental delivery strategy that allows early feedback?
- Is there a plan for resolving uncertainty?
- Is there a culture of continuous improvement?
- Does the team think that the work is never complete?
- Does regular feedback influence decision-making by the business and the delivery teams?
- Are user needs continually being refined?
- Are the digital and business strategies unified?
- Is flow being optimised within the business?
- Are inspiring new ideas being generated out of the process?
- Are new business models being discovered?
- Can the business collaborate with the delivery teams on operational planning?
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it helps me to ask the right questions when I first visit a client. Then I can put a plan in place that will transform the mindset of the business. The improvement in planning and execution is the hard bit. It takes time. It takes investment. But if a business truly wants to change, that investment will be worthwhile and it will become truly responsive.
If you want me to show you how much better it can be – and that it can even be fun! – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll come and help.